BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union volleyball team collected a key Appalachian Athletic Conference win on Thursday, rallying for a 3-2 decision over visiting Milligan (Tenn.).
The Lady Bulldogs trailed 2-1 after three sets but came back to take the match by the scores of 25-17, 22-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-7.
With the win, Union is now 14-16 overall and 10-5 in the AAC. The loss drops Milligan to 17-13 overall and 11-4 in league play. Union is currently fifth in the conference standings with Milligan third as the top five teams are all within 2.5 games of one another. Bryan (Tenn.) leads everyone with a 12-2 conference record, while Virginia Intermont is next at 12-3. After Milligan, Montreat (N.C.) sits fourth at 11-5.
Against Milligan, the Lady Bulldogs hammered home a season-high 67 kills with four players registering at least 11. Paige Moore and Caity Merritt led the way with 16 apiece with Christa Hicks following with 12. Cat Neumann helped out with 11. Merritt also delivered six total blocks, while Hollie Hopkins had four to go with her six kills.
Union used a 7-1 stretch to open up an 18-11 lead in the first set. The Lady Bulldogs steadily added to their lead as it took the opening frame 25-17. Hicks scored two of Union's final three points with kills.
The second set was a see-saw battle. Union rallied to even the set at 22 following a Merritt kill. However, Milligan scored the final three points, sealing the 25-22 win off a Kylie Whaley kill.
The third frame was a near mirror image of the second set as the play went back-and-forth. Knotted at 19, the Buffaloes reeled off six of the next seven points to take the set 25-20 for a 2-1 match lead. Whaley led the late surge with three kills during the run.
Up 12-11 in the fourth set, Union posted four consecutive kills to open up a 16-11 cushion. From that point on, Milligan never got within four points as Union took the frame 25-20 to even the match at 2-2.
Milligan opened the fifth set with a 3-0 run. Union bounced back with a 4-0 run. Tied at 5, the Lady Bulldogs seized control of the match, scoring 10 of the final 12 points to take the set 15-7 and the match 3-2.
Whaley led Milligan with 17 kills and seven total blocks, while Holly English ahd nine kills and 13 digs. Chelsea Spivey served up 44 assists to go with 11 digs, and Katelin Henson had 24 digs.
For Union, Chandler Gray and Heather Fields had 25 and 24 assists, respectively, and Gabrielle Kelly and Brooke Porter recorded 22 and 14 digs.
Union returns to action Wednesday when it plays host to Columbia (S.C.) in another conference match. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.